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food webs

This tag is associated with 19 posts
Figure 1: A venomous cone snail that lives in tropical reef systems. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ocean acidification makes predators dumb

Chemistry is important for a lot of things, but can it change the behavior of animals? Read on to find out how changes in water chemistry alter the behavior of a venomous cone snail!

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Big animals face big trouble in our oceans

Many believe we are in the midst of another mass extinction both on land and in the ocean. What marine animals are most at risk of extinction? Using current and past extinction data, researchers were able to pinpoint the most vulnerable types of marine animals.

Happy Shark Week! Today we examine a persistent and interesting biogeographical puzzle: why are there so few deep sea sharks?

Why don’t sharks go deep?

Happy Shark Week! Today we examine a persistent and interesting biogeographical puzzle: why are there so few deep sea sharks?

Figure 4 - Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems meet in this mangrove tree forest in Florida where the study was conducted. Image from Figure 1 of Yeager et al. 2016, used with permission.

Scaredy-crab behavior can alter food webs

Being small crab can be tough. Dodging predators from the land, sea, and air is no small task. A new study focuses on the convergence of individual behavior with ecosystem dynamics, showing how mangrove tree crab behavior may link distinct aquatic and terrestrial food webs.

Burger

Killer food: the harmful effects of a diatom diet

What if a single bite out of your favorite cheeseburger was toxic to your health? In the ocean, copepods are faced with this issue when they feed on certain types of diatoms. Some diatoms produce toxins as a way to defend themselves from predators. How do these toxins effect hungry copepods?

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish “freeze-out” their predators

Cephalopods such as cuttlefish are known to use camouflage behavior to avoid being eaten. Sharks are able to find disguised cuttlefish using their electrolocation. Do cuttlefish have a way to counter? This study suggests cuttlefish can “freeze” themselves in order to escape predation.

zooplankton

Plankton are eating plastic!

Zooplankton, the tiny animals that make up the base of marine food webs, are ingesting microplastics. Given the widespread abundance of microplastics in the ocean, this finding could have serious ramifications for zooplankton and their predators.

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Always follow your gut, or in this case, follow the fish guts

Following the guts of fish species is sometimes the best way to track small, mobile crustacean prey.

Glacier

Feeling the heat: how do plankton respond to glacial melting?

The current, and sometimes rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets is a direct consequence of climate change. Glacial melting on land can leave behind newly formed ice-contact lakes, which are prevalent around the world. These lakes contain high levels of mineral particles, as well as previously trapped inorganic and organic nutrients carried by glacial meltwater. What are the chances of survival for plankton in this type of environment?

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Toxic meal: Chemical cues from copepods increase red-tide toxicity

Yes, you can purchase a fuzzy red tide-forming algal cell. Aside from being much smaller and lacking any type of eye, these organisms can produce massive, toxin-rich blooms in the ocean. Nasty toxins can be harmful to other organisms in the water and even reach humans via the consumption of shellfish and fish. Through the release of chemical cues, copepods have been shown to promote further toxicity in bloom-forming algae.

Trawling cartoon, courtesy of NOAA

Bottom trawling changes bodies: the new seafloor diet

Seafloor trawling inevitably captures more than the species it is targeting. This means that when the remaining fishes line up at the buffet table, the options they have to choose from may be different than what they like to eat. In this article, Johnson et al., investigate whether two fish species in the Irish Sea are going hungry under different trawling conditions.

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How do jellyfish find their prey?

Jellyfish bloom have multiplied over the years, gathering in large quantities in the Norwegian fjords. Researchers used this opportunity to study the jellyfish and understand how efficiently jellyfish can find their zooplankton prey.

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Whale skin samples track changes in ocean biogeochemistry

Article: Ruiz-Cooley RI, Koch PL, Fiedler PC, McCarthy MD (2014) Carbon and Nitrogen Isotopes from Top Predator Amino Acids Reveal Rapidly Shifting OceanBiochemistry in the Outer California Current. PLoS ONE 9(10): e110355. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110355   Introduction Scientists have devised alternative ways to study ocean food webs using stable isotope analysis – particularly for carbon and nitrogen. […]

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Can a complex model hold the fate of the crown-of-thorns starfish?

Not all starfish are cute! The crown-of-thorns starfish has been eating all the coral on the Great Barrier Reef! Researchers set out to build a model in hopes of demonstrating the trophic interactions between this dangerous starfish and its prey, the coral.

photo courtesy of www.shedexpedition.com

The Great Barrier Reef is worth $15 billion – $20 billion AUS a year: A quick lesson in ecosystem economics

When discussing the value of an ecosystem, tensions run high. Some people evaluate ecosystems with heavy emphasis on non-use values, like aesthetics and spiritual appreciation. Other people value ecosystems based on things like natural resource availability and the potential for direct monetary revenue. It is difficult to assess the relative importance (or value) of these differing goals because the economic benefits of one are easily quantified while the other is more difficult to assess.

Tagging Devil Rays by free diving

Daredevil: Chilean devil rays dive to extreme depths and escape without brain freeze

Chilean devil rays were previously thought to live near the surface, however, this research reveals they are among the deepest divers!

Fig 3: Snipe Eel (Nemichthys scolopaceus)

The Role of Eels in Deep Sea Food Webs

Humans have made amazing strides in exploring and understanding the world, and even the universe, around us; but right off the coast looms a large, mysterious entity: the deep sea. For as much as we know about coastal zones and the continental shelf, we know very little about the organisms, communities, and ecology of the deep. However, we are slowly piecing together information about deep sea species and expanding our knowledge of these systems. This includes recent research showing that eels found in oceanic rim ecosystems appear to be key links in the food chain, connecting surface waters to the deep sea.

Fig 3: The sea bream ready for consumption.

You Are What Your Fish Eats: how an invasive seaweed is contributing to the decline in nutritional value of commercial fish

Invasive species are known to be harmful to native species, biodiversity, and ecosystem function. But recent research has shown that certain invasive species may be affecting the nutritional quality of your food!

The amphipod Paradexamine fissicauda

Marine herbivores “steal” and use chemical defenses from algal hosts

A recent study has shown that a species of amphipod is disregarding the “WARNING: DO NOT INGEST” label on chemically defended seaweed. As it turns out, these tiny herbivores are able to sequester (seize and store), via ingestion, some of the toxins found within the tissues of macroalgae. These amphipods then use the sequestered toxins for their own defense against predation by fish. What was long thought to be a mutualism between amphipods and algae has now shifted, giving a greater advantage to the herbivore.

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